OxNet North-East – up and away

The OxNet-Ordered Universe 2019 programme for a new cohort of school students aged 16-17 (Lower Sixth Form, Year 12) from the North-East is underway. Students from Southmoor Academy, St Anthony’s, St Robert of Newminster, and Park View Academy, enjoyed a skills training day at Ushaw College led by Peter Claus (Oxford), Giles Gasper (Durham), Claire Ungley (Southmoor) and staff from Durham University’s Access and Engagement office. The group explored how to question, the nature of disciplines and how we understand them, work within and across them, and in particular the fruitful collaboration that Ordered Universe builds between Arts, Humanities, and Science.

The students next follow a six-week seminar course, led by Ordered Universe team members, on their expert topics: Richard Bower (Durham) on Cosmology, Brian Tanner (Durham) on Physics, Joshua Harvey (Oxford) on Psychology, Nicola Polloni (Humboldt Berlin) on Philosophy and Translation, Colin Rennie (Sunderland) on Creativity and Giles Gasper (Durham) on History and Religious Studies. These take place in the entirely appropriate setting of St Peter’s Church, Sunderland, rich in its legacy for history of science as one of the home monasteries for Bede.

Claire Ungley, the OxNet North-East co-ordinator had the following thoughts on the first seminar session:

Professor Richard Bower ran this year’s first OxNet Seminar on the topic of Cosmology. Our minds were boggled as we discussed questions like ‘How big is the universe?’ and ‘Does the universe have a beginning?’ Students learned about Thomas Wright, the first person to measure the size of the universe, and interesting nuggets of information like the fact that 75% of the universe is dark energy and the word ‘cosmos’ actually means ‘order’. The session ended with students having a go on a VR headset, watching the formation of the universe from the Big Bang.

More to come, and we’re very much looking forward to all of the reactions from the students.

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